Examining the capacity of human U1 snRNA variants to facilitate pre-mRNA splicing

Jason Wong, Ryan Yellamaty, Christina Gallante, Ethan Lawrence, William Martelly, Shalini Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The human U1 snRNA is encoded by a multigene family consisting of transcribed variants and defective pseudogenes. Many variant U1 (vU1) snRNAs have been demonstrated to not only be transcribed but also processed by the addition of a trimethylated guanosine cap, packaged into snRNPs, and assembled into spliceosomes; however, their capacity to facilitate pre-mRNA splicing has, so far, not been tested. A recent systematic analysis of the human snRNA genes identified 178 U1 snRNA genes that are present in the genome as either tandem arrays or single genes on multiple chromosomes. Of these, 15 were found to be expressed in human tissues and cell lines, although at significantly low levels from their endogenous loci, <0.001% of the canonical U1 snRNA. In this study, we found that placing the variants in the context of the regulatory elements of the RNU1-1 gene improves the expression of many variants to levels comparable to the canonical U1 snRNA. Application of a previously established HeLa cell-based minigene reporter assay to examine the capacity of the vU1 snRNAs to support pre-mRNA splicing revealed that even though the exogenously expressed variant snRNAs were enriched in the nucleus, only a few had a measurable effect on splicing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-280
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • pre-mRNA splicing
  • splice site
  • U1 snRNA
  • U1 variant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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